Why didn’t the Minister for Urban Well-Being, Housing and Local Government invite interested MPs and NGOs to visit the Pulau Pangkor incinerator with him yesterday?

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 16th of March, 2015

Firstly, I would like to congratulate the Minister for Urban Well-Being, Housing and Local Government, Dato’ Abdul Rahman Dahlan, for taking time off his busy schedule to visit the Pulau Pangkor solid waste incinerator yesterday, Sunday, 15th of March, 2015 to see for himself the extent of the problems being faced by the incinerator operator.

The NGO – KTI – which is actively protesting against the building of an incinerator in Taman Beringin, Kepong, had earlier visited the Pulau Pangkor incinerator in September 2014 and found many problems in the disposal and management of rubbish and fly ash from this incinerator.

A fire broke out at the rubbish disposal site next to the incinerator as recently as the 5th of March, 2015, as shown by this Facebook posting by Bomba Malaysia.[1] (Appendix 1)

I had highlighted these problems in November, 2014.[2] In the last session of the 2014 parliamentary session, I had also asked the Minister to organize a formal visit for all interested MPs and NGOs to the Pulau Pangkor incinerator to assure us that the government has the ability to ensure the smooth functioning of a mini incinerator.

Unfortunately, this request fell on deaf ears as the Minister proceeded to visit the Pulau Pangkor incinerator without inviting any of the stakeholders – fellow MPs who are interested in solid waste management, NGOs such as KTI who are opposing the building of incinerators and even residents of Pulau Pangkor.

According to photos posted on Twitter, the Minister received a briefing from the CEO of XCNT, the company which was awarded the project to build four mini incinerators in Langkawi, Pangkor, Cameron Highlands and Tioman and whose poor performance was highlighted in the Auditor General’s report. (Appendix 2)

Based on the photos shown on Twitter where the Minister and his entourage were wearing face masks, there clearly continues to be operational problems at the incinerator in Pangkor (Appendix 3). Rubbish piles are still stacked high in the background and the smell is clearly strong enough to warrant facemasks. In comparison, when I visited the Bukit Tagar Sanitary Landfill in Hulu Selangor and the Tanjung Duabelas Sanitary Landfill in Kuala Langat, I did not need to wear any facemasks.

If the Minister cannot convince the public that his Ministry can ensure the safe building and operation of a 20 ton per day mini incinerator in Pulau Pangkor by inviting stakeholders to accompany for a formal visit, how can we have confidence that his Ministry can deliver on his promise to build and operate a safe 1000 ton a day mega-incinerator in Taman Beringin, Kepong?

I call upon the Minister to reveal the findings of his visit to the Pulau Pangkor incinerator and promise to invite interested MPs and NGOS – including myself and KTI – to visit the Pulau Langkawi or the Cameron Highlands incinerator when he next makes an official visit.

[1] https://www.facebook.com/BombaMalaysia.syed/posts/10152711187691762

[2] http://ongkianming.com/2014/11/12/press-statement-why-did-the-ministry-of-urban-well-being-housing-and-local-government-give-a-new-3-year-contract-worth-rm3-56-million-to-the-same-company-xcn-technology-to-continue-to-mismanage-the-pa/

Appendix 1: Fire at the Rubbish Disposal site next to the Pulau Pangkor Incinerator on the 5th of March 2015

Appendix 2: Minister receiving a briefing from the CEO of XCNT on the 15th of March, 2015

Appendix 3: Pictures of Rubbish in the background and facemasks worn by the Minister and his delegation at the Pulau Pangkor incinerator on the 15 March 2015.